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Iran’s Kebabs: What to Expect

Kebab, a famous dish found in different countries, is not the food itself; it is a way to grill meat on coals or oven. The main ingredient comes before or after the Kebab, like Joojeh Kebab (chicken), Kebab Koobideh (minced mutton), Kebab Torsh (meat or chicken marinated in sour sauce), etc. The dish is served with rice, bread or both, you have to add sumac to it, and expect a sour and rich taste from its accompanied traditional drink, Dough. Iran’s Kebabs 

Background of Iran’s Kebabs

Meat has always been a favorite dish of the people in different eras. Prehistoric man used to prepare it simply by sticking it in the fire. And turning it over and over to achieve the desirable tenderness. Besides meat, other ingredients including vegetables were also cooked in a similar way. The oldest skewers in the world go back to 17th century BC in Greece. Some others claim that it was first invented by soldiers who used their swords for holding meet over open fire! Nevertheless, the English word ‘Kebab’ comes from the Persian “kabab”, meaning “to grill”. Iran’s Kebabs 

pronunciation,  ingredients and the rest!

Kebab is a national cuisine of Iran and one could find a variety of it in different parts of the country. However it’s interesting to know that Iranians don’t pronounce this word like others around the world. They pronounce it Kabab instead of Kebab.

Iran’s Kebabs
Iran’s Kebabs

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The main ingredients are meat, rice and vegetables which are prepared in different ways and the grilling method may also differ. You can find the general dish, Kabab Koobideh all over the country which is made of the minced mutton, mixed with onions and spices. Then, it is skillfully put on a skewer and is grilled over charcoals. Joojeh Kabab is a similar dish, only it is made of chicken marinated in saffron, lemon, etc., and is grilled in a same manner.

You could expect grilled tomato or paprika besides the meat and based on your preference, you could either ask for rice or bread. If you choose rice, you could add a little butter for the taste or you could go even further and put a raw egg yolk on top of the rice and half-cook it using the heat of your dish. You should note that most restaurants would not offer the second option unless you strictly ask for it. Iran’s Kebabs 

Kebabs Menu in Iran

  • Kabab Koobideh: As was mentioned before, it is made of minced meat, mixed with onions, parsley and seasoning. Usually one egg is used for making the mixture sticky so it could be shaped round the skewer. Each Kabab is usually 8 inches long.
  • Kabab Barg: This one is made with small fillet pieces, marinated in olive oil, lemon juice, onions, saffron and seasoning. The skewers are slimmer than those used for Kabab Koobideh and pieces are usually 4 to 5 centimeters.
  • Joojeh Kabab: Pieces of chicken, with or without bones based on your preference, are marinated in a similar mixture used for Kabab Barg. Then they are grilled and served with tomato and paprika. It is favored by those who avoid red meat and it is also a fixed part of Iranian outings. Iran’s Kebabs

Food, Iran, and its cities

Iran’s Kebabs
Iran’s Kebabs
  • Kabab Bakhtiari: It is a combination of Joojeh Kabab and Kabab Barg, so the portion is bigger and could be enough for two people.
  • Kabab Bonab: It is the traditional dish of Bonab in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan. Tender mutton is minced and prepared much like Kabab Koobideh, but the skewers are usually larger. You could also find this Kabab in the restaurants of Europe and northern America.
  • Kabab Torsh: It is a traditional dish from the northern part of Iran, while in each town it is made with slight differences. Nevertheless, walnuts, pomegranate sauce and pepper besides meat or chicken are the main ingredients. International restaurants do not make it overly sour, since tourists may not like it. So be sure to ask how sour their Kababs are!

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